Football

Greatest Moments

In 1965, Jerry LeVias became the first African-American player to sign with a team in the Southwest Conference. Thankfully, that team was SMU. In 1966, LeVias' sophomore year, he helped lead the Mustangs to the SWC title and a trip to the Cotton Bowl. Looking back, it is easy to see that had LeVias not been there, SMU may not have won more than two or three games. Doak Walker commented that, "LeVias has all the moves. He'll make a good coach out of someone." He was a game-breaker, and that was never more evident than against Texas A&M. He returned a punt 83 yards to beat the Aggies in one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.

After beating the Longhorns in Austin the week before, SMU was back home in the Cotton Bowl to take on Texas A&M. A&M's Ed Hargett hit end Tommy Maxwell with two touchdown passes for a 14-0 lead. The Aggies controlled the game for the first 29 minutes until Mac White was able to find the end zone from a yard out. The Mustangs went into halftime having cut the lead in half, 14-7.

The SMU offense was never able to get on track the entire day. Luckily for the Mustangs, Wayne Rape picked off a Hargett pass and returned it for a touchdown to tie the score at 14. The score remained tied until Jerry LeVias scored the winning touchdown for the Mustangs on one of the most exciting punt returns in school history.

The Mustang defense had found new life in the second half, keeping the Aggie offense from getting any real scoring threats. After forcing the Aggies to punt, LeVias went in to return the upcoming punt. He caught it at the SMU 17-yard line and was off to the races. He made the first wave of A&M defenders miss and found his way to the left sideline. Once he made it to the sideline, no one was going to catch him in the open field. He sprinted all the way to end zone as his teammates went wild as he ran by. LeVias had scored on an 83-yard punt return to give SMU a 21-14 victory.

Harold Ratliff of the associated press noted that, "Jerry LeVias was in only 66 plays in 1966, but accomplished more than any other player in the Southwest Conference." In his first season, LeVias made a name for himself as one of the greatest players ever to wear a Mustang uniform. Texas Tech coach J.T. King praised LeVias by saying, "He's the greatest big-play man that's been in this league for years and years, maybe since Doak Walker."

In 1966, LeVias broke Doak Walker's school record with 393 yards on 15 kickoff returns, one for 100 yards against Baylor to tie Kyle Rote's record. He caught seven touchdown passes for a new school record, plus he completed five of eight passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. He led the Southwest Conference in points with 54 on his way to being named All-SWC and receiving Top Sophomore and Lineman-of-the-Year awards.

Jerry LeVias was the most heralded SMU player since Doak Walker. However, it is worth noting that he was not just a great football player, but a great person too. His breathtaking punt return against A&M in 1966 will go down as one of the greatest plays in school history. In honor of the man who wore No. 23, we place Jerry LeVias' punt return at No. 23 on our countdown of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.

THE COUNTDOWN
No. 90 :: First School Win (1915)
No. 89 :: Rutledge sets two school records (2003)
No. 88 :: Phillips 100 yard INT (1984)
No. 87 :: McCown completes 19 straight (1999)
No. 86 :: Brownlee kicks 57 yd. field goal (1985)
No. 85 :: Bennett records first career win (2002)
No. 84 :: SMU closes out the Cotton Bowl (1999)
No. 83 :: Ownby Stadium opens (1926)
No. 82 :: James sets SWC record (1982)
No. 81 :: Stewart named All-American (1993)
No. 80 :: Briggs sets new Mustang mark (2002)
No. 79 :: SMU defeats Arkansas 31-9 (1997)
No. 78 :: The 1980 Holiday Bowl (1980)
No. 77 :: Hopkins records 4 INTs (1981)
No. 76 :: Pony Express heads to Japan (1983)
No. 75 :: SMU plays in first ever bowl game (1924)
No. 74 :: Hayden Fry named head coach (1962)
No. 73 :: McIlhenny leads SMU over Baylor (1982)
No. 72 :: Flanigan sets total offense record (1997)
No. 71 :: Bell inducted into CFHOF (1955)
No. 70 :: Dickerson runs wild against A&M (1980)
No. 69 :: Charles breaks freshman record (2001)
No. 68 :: Johnson sets sack record (1999)
No. 67 :: Dupard leads pouding of Texas (1985)
No. 66 :: Sanders named first All-America (1928)
No. 65 :: Rossley breaks reception record (1994)
No. 64 :: First win over Texas (1924)
No. 63 :: Gregg returns to SMU (1988)
No. 62 :: Mann leads SMU over TCU (1926)
No. 61 :: Berry defines excellence (1954)
No. 60 :: Birth of the Mustang Name (1917)
No. 59 :: Ford scores first TD in Ford (2000)
No. 58 :: Wolf sets SWC record (1992)
No. 57 :: Meredith sets SWC record (1957)
No. 56 :: Choate Anchors SMU Defense (1978)
No. 55 :: SMU downs Texas (1965)
No. 54 :: Tolbert leads win over BU (1978)
No. 53 :: SMU downs Texas in Austin (1982)
No. 52 :: Partee kicks win over Baylor (1966)
No. 51 :: Hopkins recovers Pitt fumble (1983)
No. 50 :: Dickerson scores 19 TDs (1981)
No. 49 :: Romo breaks completion record (1990)
No. 48 :: LeVias breaks reception record (1968)
No. 47 :: SMU records 400th win (1997)
No. 46 :: SMU clinches winning season (1997)
No. 45 :: Walker on Life Magazine (1948)
No. 44 :: Rote No. 1 NFL Draft Pick (1951)
No. 43 :: SMU blanks TCU (1966)
No. 42 :: SMU downs UNT on Homecoming (1989)
No. 41 :: SMU RUNS over Razorbacks (1980)
No. 40 :: Richardson sets rushing record (1968)
No. 39 :: Wolf breaks NCAA record (1989)
No. 38 :: SMU downs Arkansas (1984)
No. 37 :: The Decision (1945)
No. 36 :: Doak Walker Day at SMU (1998)
No. 35 :: SMU Upsets A&M (1974)
No. 34 :: SMU Ties Ohio State (1978)
No. 33 :: SMU ties Penn State (1948)
No. 32 :: The Army game (1928)
No. 31 :: The TCU Game (1947)
No. 30 :: SMU comeback against Baylor (1975)
No. 29 :: Hixson leads nation in passing (1968)
No. 28 :: Back to the Cotton Bowl (1949)
No. 27 :: Smith picks off Marino (1983)
No. 26 :: The Aloha Bowl (1984)
No. 25 :: Mustang Mania (1978)
No. 24 :: First SWC Title (1923)
No. 23 :: LeVias Baffles Texas A&M (1966)
No. 22 :: Debut Of The Pony Express (1980)
No. 21 :: Undefeated SMU Beats Texas (1947)
No. 20 :: The Ohio State game (1950)
No. 19 :: Dickerson breaks SWC record (1982)
No. 18 :: Revenge against Houston (1992)
No. 17 :: Tie versus Texas A&M (1994)
No. 16 :: Win over Notre Dame (1951)
No. 15 :: Walker career accolades (1949)
No. 14 :: SMU ranked No. 2 (1982)
No. 13 :: The House That Doak Built
No. 12 :: Bluebonnet Bowl in 1968
No. 11 :: Opening of Ford Stadium (2000)
No. 10 :: The Navy Game (1963)
No. 9 :: Carter's block against Arkansas (1982)
No. 8 :: Miracle on Mockingbird (1989)
No. 7 :: The 1949 Notre Dame Game
No. 6 :: National Champions (1935)
No. 5 :: Signing of Jerry LeVias (1965)
No. 4 :: McIlhenny Cotton Bowl TD (1983)
No. 3 :: The Miracle Man (1982)
No. 2 :: The $85,000 Pass (1935)
No. 1 :: Doak Wins the Heisman (1948)

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